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Dec. 14, 2005
It was easy to tell that sunrise was going to fizzle because of a heavy cloud cover, but the morning was beautiful and the view from Hedges pour-off has to qualify as one of the finest in Arkansas. So I decided to just sit there awhile and relax for a change and take it all in, which is what I did.

But by and by the sun started swimming in and out of view amongst those clouds, and heck, with a digital camera it doesn't cost anything to take pictures once you've bought the memory card. So I did.

The sun was a little higher than I normally want to be dealing with, but still it was pretty low and was behind at least some kind of cloud most of the time, and when it wasn't I wasn't taking pictures, either. A word of caution, though, to anyone who might want to try the same thing: it's probably not a good idea to risk your eyes by doing something this stupid.

Before you ask, the answer is no, what I saw that morning doesn't look like these pictures. The fact is, a camera can't record the full range of brightness in scenes like these and is far less capable in that regard than the human eye, and while in most cases that makes a photographer's job harder, sometimes you can use that to your advantage instead. What a photographer gets to do is choose how to expose a scene to best effect, which in this case seemed to be to keep the brightest parts of the clouds from going too bright and let the not as bright parts go darker than they appear to the eye, and not worry too much if the sun went too bright since the sun is overexposed even to the eye.

Everything was happening too fast to worry much over the details anyway. The clouds were flying along at a good clip and everything was changing from second to second, and about the best I could do was set focus and exposure every so often when there was time to check them and in between do quick compostions and snap pictures before the compostions disappeared. Quite a change for a guy who usually takes pictures of stuff not known to move around much, like mountains and trees and rocks, for instance.

This Back Light photo is of a sunrise viewed from White Rock Mountain in the spring of 2004.